Emergency center for home-treated Covid patients opens

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Emergency center for home-treated Covid patients opens

Medical personnel at the Seoul Medical Center's new emergency unit undergo onsite training in Jungnag District, eastern Seoul, Wednesday. [CHOI SEO-IN]

Medical personnel at the Seoul Medical Center's new emergency unit undergo onsite training in Jungnag District, eastern Seoul, Wednesday. [CHOI SEO-IN]

 
The nation's first emergency medical center dedicated to Covid-19 patients receiving treatment at home will open in Jungnang District, eastern Seoul, Tuesday.  
 
The newly built five-story emergency medical center is part of the Seoul Medical Center, a public hospital located in Jungnag District.  
 
The center will only take in Covid-19 patients receiving treatment at home whose conditions suddenly deteriorate.   
 
The unit will be open 24 hours and staffed with doctors and nurses who will be able to perform emergency surgery.  
 
“The Seoul Medical Center has been at the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic since January 2020 when the pandemic started,” said Park Hyeon-kyeong, head of the emergency medical center.  
 
“So we had the equipment and skills to expand our services for a new emergency medical center.” 
 
While construction of the facility is complete, the center still needs more workers to function at its full capacity.  
 
An emergency medical center normally has 50 sickbeds, but the Seoul Medical center will operate only 20 because of lack of staff.  
 
A total of 10 I.C.U. beds and 10 emergency sickbeds will be available.  
 
One of the main reasons for the dearth of workers is the heavy workload.  
 
“Taking care of Covid-19 patients is much harder than taking care of regular patients,” said a nurse at the Seoul Medical Center who requested anonymity.
 
“Starting from our attire, the level D protective suits that we are required to put on while examining and taking care of Covid-19 patients prohibit us from simple activities like drinking water or going to the bathroom.”  
 
A staffer from the Seoul Medical Center said that the city’s order to repurpose their main medical center for Covid-19 patients has caused some staff to quit, making it difficult to find workers for the new emergency center. 
 
“We are a public hospital so we have bucked up for this pandemic and took in as many Covid-19 patients as we could," the staffer said, "but we lost a lot of workers along the way.”  
 
“Hiring nurses just out of school and asking doctors from our main center to join us, we barely gathered enough people willing to work in the emergency center.”
 
Apart from the emergency center, Seoul Medical Center is also providing outpatient services for Covid-19 patients being treated at home who may need to see a doctor in person due to an underlying condition or a symptom that cannot be clearly identified during remote care.  
 
An additional 1,407 people were receiving at-home treatment as of Sunday, bringing the total to 23,376. In Seoul alone, 11,285 patients were being treated at home.  
 
Since Nov. 1, 29 people have died while receiving treatment at home, according to the KDCA.
 

BY CHOI SEO-IN, LEE JIAN [lee.jian@joongang.co.kr]
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